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It has been over a decade since Sacha Baron Cohen's film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was released, but the satire is still getting people in trouble. Last week, a group of six Czech tourists visiting Kazakhstan decided to don Borat's famous mankini and pose for photos as is natural when visiting the Central Asian country. However, the authorities in Kazakhstan did not find this charming or amusing, and subsequently detained the men for 'minor hooliganism'.
As the BBC reports, the six men posed for photos while wearing the mankinis in Kazakhstan's capital city of Astana. They were arrested and fined 22,500 Tenge each for their indecent appearances, which converts roughly to about $67 in American dollars. Not a bad price to pay for a great photo that is now accompanied by an even greater story. Arguably the best part of the whole thing is that they were detained for 'minor hooliganism,' what a great term. But it looks like the six men may not even need to dip into their own pockets, because the man behind Bruno, Ali G and Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen, has offered to pay the fines for the six Czech men. The British actor took to his Facebook page and asked for the men to send him their information and proof that they were the mankini criminals. Once he has those details, he'll pay their fines. It's cool of him to do so considering he created the character and has been the cause of Kazakhstan's ire in the past.
The arrest of the men caused a bit of a debate on social media in Kazakhstan, with some believing it innocuous and others finding it offensive. While it is basically harmless and not something we would want anyone to be in serious trouble for, it is important to be aware and smart about what you do when you're in another country. Fairly or unfairly, many in the Western world don't known much about Kazakhstan, and for them Borat is the most on tap touchstone. So it isn't entirely surprising that tourists to Kazakhstan occasionally dress up as Borat.
Sacha Baron Cohen himself has a rocky history with Kazakhstan. The actor's humor is known for making people uncomfortable. While Borat's satire had many Americans laughing at their countrymen, those from the Central Asian country found less humor in the depiction of their country. Many thought Borat portrayed Kazakh's as backwards and racist people from a filthy, poor country. Kazakhstan fought against the film and Sacha Baron Cohen, even banning the film within its borders. The country spent a great deal of time trying to change the perception of Kazakhstan put forth in the film, but have since adopted a more nuanced view given the vast increase in tourism following the film.
Borat was written by Sacha Baron Cohen and directed by Larry Charles. The mockumentary followed the misadventures of Cohen's Borat Sagdiyev, a Kazakh reporter who travels to the United States to make a documentary. Sacha Baron Cohen doesn't have any movies coming out in the super near future, but he is attached to a Mandrake The Magician film. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the latest in movie fandom arrests.